As some of you know, we have been without a refrigerator for over a year now. The one that was built into the trailer died at the beginning of Feb 2015 and the repairman was unable to resuscitate it. It turned out the cooling unit on it broke and to replace that would cost more than a new fridge. Trailer-specific new fridges aren’t cheep.
Considering that we gutted the whole interior of the trailer to have it spray foamed, all of the framing, shelves and counter tops were removed leaving a blank spot where we once had a kitchen. At last, I can finally announce that we are back on the road to having a kitchen. New appliances have arrived in our lives.
We picked up a new propane fridge and stove made by Unique Off-Grid on March 5th. Here you can see them sitting in the back of the truck.
Now the challenge of trying to get them into the trailer. As you can see from the above picture, there is a lot of snow to overcome.
There was also the added challenge that the wonderful plastic shield we had put up in front of the trailer now imposed limitations on how we could approach getting the appliances inside. The direct path that we kept clear during winter would not do as the struts coming down from the roof to the ground for the plastic shield did not leave enough space for the boxes to clear. We had to take a long circuitous route.
Starting from the back of the truck, we tamped down a path in the snow. I also put down some plywood to make moving the boxes easier. Using the forearm forklift straps that we have, Kat and I moved the box onto the plywood as far forward as we could. I had two lengths of plywood put end to end and when we reached the far end, we put the box down and took the plywood from the behind and put it back in front.
It was slow, but steady. We had to go around the far side of the composting toilet room.
Do a 90 degree turn…
… and then head towards the trailer from behind the toilet room.
Finally, we managed to get the appliances in the space by the door. It took quite a while, but we didn’t have any mishaps, so all was good. Now we had to actually get them into the trailer.
To get them in the door, which is pretty narrow (73.5cm or 29″), we pulled them out of their boxes. There was extra cardboard protection strapped onto the fridge which we left on. To get them into the trailer, we made a makeshift ramp.
The stove was easier, as it is smaller. The fridge was a big pain, but we managed to get it inside. We were beat after that.
I had been hoping that hooking them up would be easy, but it wasn’t, and they don’t make these things so your average handy person can do it. Mainly because its difficult to get the parts. You can’t just walk into your average hardware store and buy propane parts. Not to mention that the instructions say repeatedly that you are supposed to get a licensed propane installer to do it.
So, I called the same guy who helped us when our original fridge died. Unfortunately, he didn’t call us back. On top of that, we were scheduled to head to Ottawa for a week to house sit. So the appliances sat there, doing nothing for almost two weeks.
When I we got back, I called my propane provider and the guys came out yesterday (March 23rd). It’s always been the same guys and they have always been really good about what we have going on here, living in a trailer and all.
I prepped the spot where the fridge was going to go by cutting the holes in the wall for the fresh air and exhaust vents. The less the propane guys needed to do, the less time it would take. When they charge you by the hour, these things are important.
Even with that, it still took them over two hours. Connecting the vents was a very finicky thing and we also had to double check all of the connections. There was one that needed to be tightened for the fridge, which means undoing the vent pipes again, pulling the fridge out, tightening the connection and then reconnecting it all.
I am glad, in the end, that I did have someone come to install them as there were a whole bunch of small parts that I wouldn’t have know about.
After all said and done, we had new appliances installed and working.
All we needed to do now is peel the plastic off the fridge. Here you can see Kat doing that. You can also see her reflection on the freezer door 😛
Stove is lit up with all four burners going. Yay, no more lighting the stove with matches. These things have a really nice range of flame too. The low is really low so if you want to simmer something, you can. That was always tough with the old stove.
Here they are again, from the other angle, after all of the plastic was peeled away. Unfortunately, we put a small dent in the freezer door when we brought it into the trailer, but I’m not going to complain about it now.
It feels awesome now having a real fridge. With the warmer weather, we had to move our cooler outside to keep things cold, but now that we have a fridge, we don’t need to go outside to get the butter or cat food 🙂
This is what I call the heaven factor. If you have seen the Earthship movie Garbage Warrior, there is a part in it when one of the crew members talked about having his own plot of land and very slowly building his own Earthship. He had just been camping on site and when he finally got the tire walls high enough that it blocked the wind “it was like heaven”.
So having been without a fridge for over a year, it is like heaven having a new one to keep our food cold.